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Discovering New Possibilities at Tricia Downing’s Camp Discovery

Camp Discovery blog title header

Have you heard about Camp Discovery? It’s a camp specifically for women with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities.

Let’s start at the beginning with Camp Discovery’s founder, Tricia Downing.

Tricia Downing’s Inspiring Story

Tricia has been competitive and physically active almost since birth. As a child, she enjoyed swimming, gymnastics, and running. However, her true love was bicycling and competitive racing.

She never imagined that a beautiful sunny day spent doing her favorite thing in the world would end with her in the hospital. After she was hit by a car while bicycling, she realized she was unable to feel her legs. In one fateful moment, her life was changed forever.

tricia downing spinal cord injury

Tricia’s Recovery After Her Spinal Cord Injury

After she’d been knocked from her bicycle over the hood of the car, the minutes until the emergency services arrived felt excruciatingly long. However, finally, she made it to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, CO.

Tricia spent nearly a month in intensive care while doctors determined the extent of her injuries. Next, she transferred to Craig Hospital to begin rehabilitation therapy. She had to learn how to accomplish tasks like wheelchair transfers and more.

The physical and occupational therapy she received was the foundation for her new life. However, her time in recreational therapy, which is also known as rec therapy, was her favorite part.

Her rec therapist helped Tricia get back to doing the things she loved. Plus, they introduced her to new activities too, such as hand-cycling.

After just one handcycle ride, Tricia was hooked.

tricia downing handcycle racing

New Wheels Rolling

One of the first things Tricia decided to do after being released from rehab was to get involved in wheelchair sports. She knew it would be a challenge, but she wanted to face it all head-on and not let her injury hold her back from doing things she loved.

I think one of the things about having an accident like this is that it really makes you look inside and see who you are. When I got out of Craig Hospital, I knew that I could do more with myself. I got a second chance, so I knew I had to do something great.
Tricia Downing

Since her accident, she has competed in over 100 races, including marathons. Also, she was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon. She also qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2006 and 2010 and competed on the U.S. Rowing Team in the World Championship in 2011.

Eventually, she was drawn to the competitive sport of shooting in 2014, and she finished 17th in a 2015 World Cup event. She also competed on the U.S. Team in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Plus, Tricia became a professional speaker and went back to school to earn two Master’s Degrees in both Disability Studies and Sports Management.

This became the foundation for her next big goal.

Tricia Downing
Photo Credit: Mark Woolcott Photography

Opening New Doors With Camp Discovery

In 2009, nine years after her accident, Tricia founded a camp in Colorado specifically for women 21-years-old and up who are in wheelchairs for conditions like spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, and other conditions. Aptly named Camp Discovery, this camp helps women redefine their lives and forget the old limits.

The three-day camp teaches female wheelchair-users all about physical fitness but also allows them to have time to create new friendships with others with similar experiences and obstacles. Combining holistic and physical wellness practices, the camp activities help women to find a place of confidence, security, and self-acceptance.

Women doing adaptive yoga at Camp Discovery
A group of campers doing adaptive yoga exercises at Camp Discovery

Activities at Camp Discovery

Over the years, the camp has grown, and women from all over the country attend each year at the beautiful Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, Colorado. In addition to being able to commune with one another and forge new friendships, the female camp-goers participate in activities such as:

  • Wheelchair tennis
  • SCUBA diving
  • Horseback riding
  • Art therapy
  • Nutrition classes
  • Massage
  • Yoga and pilates
  • Swimming
  • Sled hockey
  • Kayaking
  • and more!

trish downing with friends at camp discovery

Today, Tricia continues to help others overcome their fears and limiting beliefs to unlock new possibilities for themselves. Part of this is through her work at Camp Discovery. In addition, she makes professional speaking engagements to talk about her story while motivating people to believe in themselves, no matter their disability or condition.

Learn more about Tricia and her amazing story at:

Tricia Downing quote: I want everyone to discover their inner champion.

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

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About the Author
Discovering New Possibilities at Tricia Downing’s Camp Discovery
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for over 14 years now. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).